I have just recently started to feel like I have come into my own as a photographer. Many have told me that I am an amazing photographer but I have not always believed it myself. I found myself always getting inspiration from other photographers (which in theory is good) but what I really wanted, was to be my own inspiration. Just like any artist, I wanted to look at my work and see my happiness, my struggles, my HEART and myself!! Awww, that word ARTIST. I still feel like it is hard to call myself an artist. But more recently, I have started to see it because, what does “artist” really mean? The dictionary defines it as “a person who creates art: a person who is skilled at drawing, painting, etc.“, but I see it as an exploration of one’s soul manifested into a tangible object. I think anyone can be an artist in their own fashion, mine just so happens to be photography and more specifically, children. To me children are the pieces of my soul that hold me together, the purest form of love lies in a child’s heart and if I can tap into that for a few minutes while hanging out with them, well, then my heart is that much more full and my artwork is that much more meaningful.
I think my struggle with photography was like anyone’s starting something new. Just because your passion is in art you still have to hone that skill and slowly develop it. For the last few years I have wrapped myself up with learning as much as I could about photography and the business of photography. While still trying to be a functioning member of my family, I completely delved into learning all that I could and eventually I got lost in learning what others do and lost focus on what I can do! My heart, soul and spirit were wrapped up in the mechanics of it all and I forgot what it felt like to be passionate about photography. Now you may wonder how I was able to refocus. I hadn’t only lost my passion for photography but also in life. I was depressed and cranky. You try spending all your time editing, invoicing, marketing in a very messy house (because who has time to clean when you are editing until 2am) and still feel happy with the path you’re on. I was not and something had to change.
From all the classes on the mechanics of photography and the business of photography I slowly was able to put a system in place to keep my business organized and restructure what I offered to make myself successful and happy. I know there are a lot of articles out there from prominent photographers speaking about how to structure your pricing in order to be successful by not giving away the farm. These articles helped me quite a bit when I chose to go from a shoot and burn photographer to offering beautiful pieces of artwork to my clients. These articles are great but the ones I read were missing one important aspect for me! I was not only giving away the farm when I was selling a portrait session and DVD for less than minimum wage but I was also giving away a piece of myself. My artwork was not reaching its full potential when it was sitting on a CD somewhere in someone’s drawer. I was taking these great images and saying see you later to them hoping that someday they would go from being little eggs to a full grown chicken (yeah, yeah I am going to far with this giving away the farm analogy I know!) BUT SERIOUSLY!!! I had no control over what was being done with them! I was seriously getting depressed. I found myself designing albums for myself because I was so inspired by the story told in the session that I couldn’t let it go! I wanted these stories written across pages in albums, or splashed across the walls of my clients’ homes or at least printed in a nice image box to be displayed when desired! The other part I was missing was getting to see my client’s reaction when they saw the images for the first time. I find it very important for my clients to be involved in the selection process. Of course I narrow the 300+ images down to about 60-80, but at that time it is important for the client to choose which one tells the story of their family. By going to the client’s home and walking them through the selection process they get a more customized and personal experience and I get to hang out with these people I like so much and cuddle and giggle with my mini mes (I find that every little kid wants to be me after they leave a session. I have had clients send me pictures of their kids playing Miss Mel the photographer!) Spending time with my clients is very important to me, not just as their photographer but because I love people! The more stories I hear about others lives the more fulfilled I am in my own. I am constantly learning about myself by stepping into others lives for a bit. I guess that is just the psychologist in me! Oh did I mention I have a degree in psychology!
I know not everyone agrees with me and that is fine. I hope you can find a photographer that best fits your style but I am here to make my clients’ souls and spirits happy and I have chosen the clients that want to invest in my happiness as well because that is what the human experience is all about: not only making a happy life for yourself but also for the people around you!